Very intense and emotional epic fantasy of mature scope and depth, a book that can be experienced as a self-contained story yet it's the stage setter of a longer series, which I'm currently reading and enjoying immensely.
I loved the richly detailed and researched descriptions and the harmonic world-building, full of lore and history. Athera is a world of ancient mysteries, guarded by sorcerers and enchantresses, sundered by internal strife and molded by the fears and hopes of his inhabitants. Both the plot and the relationships between characters are deep and layered, granting unexpected twists and unpredictable turns of events, all presented with the striking vibrancy of Janny Wurts' boundless imagination and lyric style.
The story opens with a grave prologue and shows the long-lasting all-consuming hate between two kingdoms in the world of Dascen Elur, and the dictates of a five-century-old prophecy which promises restoration and disruption in another world. Two princes, apparently the embodiment of good and evil, unwittingly are entangled by the coils of fate and thrown (literally) into an epic journey of unknown consequences.
Arithon, a small, lithe man who struggles between an emphatic core that craves harmony and the expectations of others that want him to be a hero.
Lysaer, a stalwart, handsome and charming man born and breed to the crown, driven by an innate hunger for justice and looking for a purpose to cope with the loss of his birthright.
They are the only hope to free the world of Athera from the vices of the unnatural mist which covers the sun and corrupts the life on the land, but nurtured in misunderstandings and mutual hurt, the elusive balance between them is soon to tip the scale against all auguries.
My first foray into the series was with Child of Prophecy, a short story set on the world of Athera centuries earlier than Mistwraith's opening, and some names and facts sounded familiar, it was more immediate to gain reading momentum and go past the first pages where the massive context-shaping leaves the reader a little disoriented, but soon follows the first unveiling of Arithon's demeanor and Lysaer's resolve as the Sorcerers give insight of the princes duty to Athera's plight.
I'm very glad I've discovered this fantasy gem of deepest complexity and stylistic brilliance, featuring unforgettable adult protagonists, a well-rounded cast of characters and a compelling, thought-provoking tale that engaged me at every level, and had me run for the following book, The Ships of Merior.